My periods were always chaotic
& I was partying hard.
My baby boy had a rocky road those first months,
inside me when my life was joylessly forgotten.
Nothing was delivered, I sat by
his sickness, tiny Jim would cough like he was
expelling the world.
That shitty-toothed winter I would constantly push the pram up/down a Victoria St that was so busy with connection.
Prostitutes & social workers tutted in the gloom.
Tony once dropped by randy & broke, hadn’t seen him in years
- those years were severed strings. I once sat in St John’s
crying to all those Christs who run the world.
Blood on the door was some message -
the minister sounded positive, all will have shelter
from the blights of the Lord. Jimmy cried softer
then died. There was so much sympathy
for 6 weeks. 67 “friends” “liked” the funeral arrangements.
Everyone said it was time to
Get Over It.
I will live without compartments.
from Getting By Not Fitting In (Island, 2016)
This dozen amused tourists
surround a dead dragon on the sand.
Its last ferocity
is the stench that armours each ending.
Already delicate fins are trimmed to lace
by the scission of crabs.
Beneath a corona of flies
spirit is urged to shuck flesh.
Harp of teeth
reach out to voice.
A roadmap of spine leads towards the spume.
under flash–bulb asepticism.
Any shift in tide will send this
crashing to the tale.
There is history,
but it won’t tell.
From Sea of Heartbeak (Unexpected Resilience)
is light, the pixel storm.
the random grim forge
biography of space
hand painted diamond
It is the explosion of mass, all coalescence is an antithesis
and we dare not look.
Here, where deities are discussed,
in the topography of sunlight
we blather in chasms of parrot green,
tumbling lambs and tinted alps.
The lake falls home
(ti-tree bows and gumnut scrap),
foreign grasses run for cover.
The estranged children are shadows,
young men linger in the canopies
of their failure to thrive.
Light is father for those who rule -
fenced under tin.
But we are dappled things and cordial -
tamed festival, flakes of sparrow.
For this I pray to Energy,
Toot the Rod.
From holtite eyes
gems of dyed blond
rose-moles on backs
bikini tops sleep on incandescent sand.
Beneath the sun we are always naked,
aroused and prayerful.
Landlords ring the Holy, nagging customers of this
heaven-handled electrician… burning plastic,
God1 eats all space and burns out gender,
the ruins of territory are silent. You are pleasure
and greed. The christians were right,
except the judgement. If love lies here
it’s buried deep. Appropriately inexplicable
I am healed beneath your lips.
From The Ambrosiacs (Island, 2009)
SPIN the BOTTLE
On the train
the two of them are big, wear
denim like animal skins, hair carved freeways
& beards a wilderness. They stink (soil, damp & sweat).
Talking to a woman
Newtown mid 30s
her language cranked down to a strine
that soothes, dampens, lubricates
the rambling of these men.
Everything they do or say
is as though it's grabbed.
Even simple talk about the weather is found
& taken like a ram raid.
No, she doesn't drink
after 15 years of fighting it -
Fucks ma head.
Her face torn,
tense - maybe unfriendly except for the words plus
she's given them her address
(causing the shit-rich shipwrecked
suit-woman across the aisle to become panicky,
a shiver at the perimeter).
Yeah Newtown. They're heading to the Cross
....for a while.
I realise they're me, bar a few accidents.
I'm her with her habits
in handbags & other people's hallways.
They're a miracle of matching
& so common.
Or rape. Will the guys talk about
sharing the bitch?
Perhaps she'll tame
& pamper them with hot meals beside eastern curtains.
Give them perfumed baths, stories to carry
to the next stop.
Prison, psych hospitals
the bush & the beats.
& wander uncertain paths with only
a spinning bottle for a compass.
Previously published in Stories of the Feet (Five Islands, 2004)
THREE RAIL WORKERS
In the signal box, elevated
beyond tracks, freight or people
Jack was smoking
like a great steam engine while
Neal just sat quiet, his
body so at ease it was like
the different parts were talking to each other,
shootin' the shit.
I was younger, more stories
& Jack pulled up a bottle from
that busted brown leather bag he took everywhere.
A few loose sheets of paper
were caught up in his hand along
with the bottle &
it seemed they were hanging onto that bourbon
like a bunch of desperate men.
But one by one
into Jack's sack.
There was a quiet to the place, each
bell or mechanical chnk discrete & isolated
so that by themselves the noises barely registered.
Up the tracks
an express freight stood at the second home with
the patience of some sedated circus elephant.
Neal wrote a poem with his huge (caressing) right hand.
Took Jack's reduced bottle
to his rolling lips.
Nervous amongst elders
my jokes aim for original
but often just "off".
I was the first one to break, that
train's power held back by only
fakery of rules, coloured lights.
Pulled the lever & the locomotive began its
tectonic shift towards momentum as
the bottle sunk to the desk.
Jack scrawled the time in the signal box log.
He was always the recorder.
Boy lacks staying power Neal mutters.
leave to clean the points.
his pages writhe in the darkness.
Previously published in Appetites of Light (PressPress, 2002)
LOOK BACK IN LANGUOR
Summer never comes till January:
false starts through crooked Spring ,
breaking of waters in a wet December,
tossed chum/ the blood of christmas. Then HERE.
Our feet like dinosaurs on this beach wearing
gold from the textures of sand
& lovers, we touch
with the sacred clumsiness of monks
hungry seagulls scowl
as tour buses prowl the promenade
a dance in slow motion (familiar in the dry notes,
dots amongst coils).
Our thongs wander past
energetic panel vans.
Nearby, some anxious soul says
"there is no fear" even as he looks.
He is an extra....
(they also serve who only stand & stare).
"Bang!" she laughed happily. Young women, lycra trips,
falling as the promised old leaves,
falling like the surf,
falling like ink, like
Male hormones above the droplets airborne, each day
heat hangs over everyone
like a loan.
The afternoon breeze arrives innocently
(never, of course, to be trusted).
Children run across the placid surface of sunbaking adults,
someone thinks of dinner.
Hair teased up like parakeet, Matt, The Cork, parades .
Small humours, pigment, the constant breaks.
Look back in languor,
pure as idiocy
happy as pharmacy
I ride the curving stream of your neck.
Riding this day.
Previously published in The Ways of Waves (SideWaLK, 2000)
For Lake Pedder, dammed for electricity generation
1. Over the browns and
ginger of that month.
Rain on the day, gangs of
First light ink-brush fingers
combed the distance / soothing
the arch back of stone.
2. They are waiting
for the word
in weatherblown, torn khaki plastic.
in angry fusillade dropping from the clouds against
the obdurate calm of the waters,
as like opposing elements
this downpour is no relation
to the lake's still
or the earthbound beard of ice clinging
brittle beneath overhangs.
& other human stuff
bounce off the pink sand.
3. Some have dived to find the hidden shore,
pressed fingers on the old beach.
And sunsets still bring rose to the water
as the lake lies buried beneath itself.
previously published in Nitty Gritty (Five Islands,1997)
L.A. HALF LIGHT
Pay the money, ride.
THIS IMPORTANT MESSAGE,
wear it tight
wet fibres SPONSOR'S MESSAGE
a new technology smile
a water based lubricant smile its an
Angelino evening the
old yellow sun simply up & gone
like a chaperone on strike.
DRUGSTORE, barn sized, never shut. Its aisles/
pain relief, socks & deck chairs.
PINK PUSSYCAT blinking quietly,
a building knitting.
VINE ST BAR & GRILL or others similar, alcohollywood
inspirations on stools when the poets & singers turn to make
this world culture.
Night traffic ambient prattle
shop window church collects a few
wandering hopers passing through.
The people. Reach past 501s,
chain mail of badges to clutter each lapel.
That woman by Vermont.
The smoky patois
of Harry in the Downtown Sports Bar.
Latinos, afro, asian, whites
city suburbs & tribes separately,
side by side.
newly born each evening like the city's
famous ocean breeze
racing towards the desert.
from Tickle (Island, 1993)